Changing the Landscape of Arizona’s Healthcare System

An average trip to the emergency room costs $500, a cost that either AHCCCS or the public healthcare system will shoulder. With nearly all the individuals Intermountain Centers & Affiliates serves qualifying as low-income, inessential trips to the emergency room can place a major strain on a financially burdened system.  As the state’s largest nonprofit, and one of the most impactful health and human services organizations in Arizona, Intermountain has a history of innovation that shapes the landscape of Arizona’s healthcare system. One such initiative showing extraordinary promise in the face of rising healthcare costs is Project Readmission Disrupt which yielded a 38% decrease in emergency department utilization over the course of 9 months and a 66% decrease in inpatient readmissions.

A preventative intervention at its core, Project Readmission Disrupt sought to first understand the root causes of non-necessary emergency room visits. Internal audits revealed a series of meaningful driving factors: a poorly managed chronic healthcare condition such as diabetes or hypertension, behavioral health issues such as panic disorder, a lack of quality primary care, substance use disorders, and housing insecurity.

As the team dug further, one conclusion became clear: the factors that drive individuals to go to the emergency room for unnecessary reasons can be universally addressed through integrated care models that prioritize proactive care coordination, primary care, addressing health-related social needs, and psychosocial intervention. As a result of working closely with members to address their specific needs, five integrated care sites, with a census beyond 5,000 members have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of resources to put towards more critical patient needs, but more excitingly paves the way for a program that, when launched across the state, could potentially one day save  emergency services over a million dollars each year, cutting wait times for us and our loved ones, and reducing burnout in emergency room nurses and doctors due to the overwhelming influx of patients. Shorter wait times also means faster interventions, which potentially could result in more lives saved for our members and the communities we serve.

Thank you to the Project Readmission Disrupt team for spearheading an impactful project that is transforming healthcare for our most vulnerable. Innovative, bold thinking like yours, coupled with the dynamic and collaborative teamwork from our sites, is how Intermountain and our affiliates continues to be thought leaders in solving Arizona’s greatest healthcare challenges.